Multiple Sclerosis Awareness month occurs in May in Canada but in the US in March and Internationally on May 30. It’s sort of like how our Thanksgiving is different from the American Thanksgiving.
I’d love to hear from bloggers outside of Canada and the US if you have a Multiple Sclerosis Month.
Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, is a disease of the central nervous system that can cause symptoms throughout the body ranging from difficulty walking to bladder dysfunction to changes in memory and thinking abilities.
MS attacks parts of a person’s brain and spinal cord. Typical symptoms are extreme fatigue, visual and sensory problems, disequilibrium. Eventually, loss of muscle control leads to paralysis. Besides providing a bullet point explanation of the disease the site gives loads of information on research currently being on the disease. It’s fascinating on what is being done from drugs to prevent relapse, to repairing nerve cells damaged by MS.
For more on MS visit mscanada.ca (make sure you scroll down and head to their new homepage.)
In my novel, Not by Design, Felicity Starr is dumped by the man she is about to marry when he learns of her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. Felicity finds her life thrust into unexpected turns. As she confronts the on-going challenges presented by her disease, she gains the strength to let go of old beliefs and face her inner truths. Love, friendship and rewarding work come in different forms and Felicity finds it all in ways she never imagined – in a life that’s not by design.
I realize that my knowledge of the disease is scant and that I’ve portrayed just a very small part of what it is like to be diagnosed with MS. If my perception of MS leans towards optimism it is only because the young men and women I met inflicted with MS showed courage, strength and optimism themselves in living with MS.
I realize that I have been neglecting my blog posts on screenwriting. The thing is, I was busy writing my screenplay. Now that I’ve finished it (for now) I’d like to share what I learned about screenwriting for TV or film.
A few posts ago I wrote about the logline which you can have a look at here:
One of the ideas I discovered in my process to screenwriting is that your script should be presented in a certain standard, much like a play might be presented. There are quite a few screenwriting softwares out here, depending on your needs. I chose to write on ARC STUDIO and really like it. I am still on it.
So here’s a link to their website and especially what they have to say about the log line:
(… the basic formula of a logline is protagonist + catalyst + protagonist’s goal + antagonist/conflict.
In this post I share with you three other elements that are included in the proposal of a screenplay.
In Save The Cat (see my previous post) Blake Snyder mentions ten types of genres. He cautions about staying away from “standard genre types such as Romantic Comedy, Epic or Biography- because those names don’t really tell me anything about what the story is.”
As a standard genre my story is romantic drama, but in following Snyder’s advice my genre falls under the Rites of Passage type. “These are tales of pain and torment , but usually from an outside force; Life.” Movies that Snyder classifies under this type include stories about puberty, mid-life crisis, old age, romantic break-up, and grieving stories.
Although my series takes place in part in India, Italy and Boston I have omitted these scenes from the screenplay. I do mention the character going to India but I only speak of her impressions upon her return. Similarly, I do not have the character go to Boston or Italy. The reason for doing this is that film producers are money minded. Having the crew travel to film a scene ups the costs which might make a producer reject the screenplay.
So my settings are: A women’s center in a middle-class area of a city. Bars and pubs, restaurants. The characters’ apartments. Conference hall. Art Gallery. Inside taxi cab. Backyard garden. Museum. Gym. Office. Golf Course. Library. Construction site of a donut shop. Inside a car.
These are easily filmed on set or at least in the city where the film is being made.
This is the synopsis of the story. One thing I was told to keep in mind, is that the agents/producers/directors are busy people and don’t have time to read through pages of what your film or series is about. What they will be more interested in is the script itself which I will talk about in another post.
The concept is the heart of the proposal and includes:
An introduction to the idea of your story along with main emotions and theme. Here you can include one sentence story examples.
A paragraph which outlines the story in each episode – its beginning and ending.
Visual Elements that are in the story. Is it entertainment, an interview, narration, animation. Is there a host?
Finally, clarity and brevity is key.
Please note that I will not be as active on Social Media for the next while as my family is preparing a funeral for my brother-in-law and in the weeks that follow I will be involved in helping care of my sister, who is eighty, and will need support as she begins her grieving process.
A few weeks ago I completed a twelve hour course on Creating A TV Series Proposal given by Jennifer McAuley sponsored by The Quebec Writers’ Federation.
One of the features of writing a proposal for TV is to have a GREAT logline. It’s one to three sentences that grabs the agent, producer, director, audience attention to your story. It is precise and gets to the point of your story.
Here’s my logline for my TV script (which might change as I go along writing the script) but for now here it is:
According to Keri Novak’s PhD study group, women who have had absent fathers grow up assuming that they are doomed to unsuccessful relationships with men. That is, until Keri meets her own Prince Charming putting her research and the award she is about to receive in jeopardy.
I am used to associatingToni Pike’s writing with crime and thrillers, not this delightful modern feel-good women’s fiction and so it was a surprise for me to see it on her post.
The first part of the novel is about Linda’s marriage to Ron, a horrible man.
He was the sort of person who brought joy whenever he departed, a feeling of peace and freedom that lasted until the moment of his return.
Ron is constantly criticizing Linda, especially her weight, treats her like his servant and is often going out at night coming home smelling of alcohol. Linda stays in the marriage because she doesn’t know what else to do and likes her home when her husband is at work or playing golf. As much as Linda is the glass half full type of person Ron is eternally pessimistic.
Aside from her marriage, Linda also hates teaching although there was a time when it was her passion but things have changed.
She had once been a great teacher, popular with students and respected by other staff members. Every year, a little gloss had been wiped away and now only a dull, rusted undercoat was left. It was so hard to look forward to a day at school when a riot could break out at any moment and every lesson was like trying to tame a herd of wild beasts.
Linda has a breakdown (or perhaps a breakthrough). She spends a great deal of her time in bed eating chocolates and gaining weight something which Ron doesn’t let her forget.
If you’re not better tomorrow, then I’m leaving. I’m not taking care of an invalid for the rest of my life. There’s nothing wrong with you, apart from being too fat and too lazy to go to work.
When Linda doesn’t change Ron asks for a divorce and off Linda goes gaining enthusiasm, energy and the will to take care of herself.
The remainder of the novel is sweet and reminiscent of the Television show I used to watch as a kid: Leave it to Beaver. It has that kind, family feel to it. Beneath her submission towards Ron, Linda is a very astute woman who isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Her character adds a fun, easy relaxing and pleasant read.
We see Linda thrive through the obligations of life: getting a house ready to sell. Finding an apartment. Moving to a different city, closer to her sister. Quitting her job. Finding work in fashion. Taking care of herself. Embarking on a new and loving relationship and writing.
Linda was an English teacher who once loved to write, but life with Ron had dulled her inspiration and melted the muse.
The book also contains some heartwarming sentences:
… your heart matches your lovely face. Said by new boyfriend, Dennis.
Linda uses her struggles with weight to write inspiring articles for The Canberra News Magazine which motivates her in setting goals for her own weight loss program.
She loved trying to write with clarity, transposing the thoughts in her brain to paper and then polishing them carefully.
As the stain of verbal and psychological abuse fades, Linda becomes more confident and someone you’d love to hang out with.
It’s an upbeat novel and Pike shows that there are happy endings even for those in mid-life.
An enjoyable read that is bound to take you out of any morose mood you might be in.
It’s been freezing cold here and so it was the perfect weather to bundle up with a warm sweater, a pair of woolen socks, a blanket and a couple of books from some blogger friends. One a mystery, the other a contemporary romance.
Lauren is tired of living with her in laws, especially her dominating mother-in-law and can hardly wait to be able to move out with her husband, Ben, and have the privacy and liberty she craves.
Her desires to escape her current situation make her the perfect target for falling for a get rich quick scam. By doing so, she practically loses all her and her husband’s life savings and in the process is destroying her marriage.
There is more to this novel besides the scam which places it above the white color crime genre and into the mystery crime novel.
This was an easy read and one that anybody who is thinking of embarking in a get rich scheme ought to read this book. It’s bound to make you think twice about giving your well earned money away.
SCAM is a fast paced novel with well developed characters. It is a story about forgiveness, mistakes and the power of love.
It’s short enough to be read in one sitting which I did not because of its length but because I couldn’t put it down. All in all a fun read.
SEARCHING FOR HOME takes place in a small village in Whispering Slopes in the Shenandoah Valley. Meg is both a physical therapist and runs a B&B which her sister left her along with a set of five-year-old triplets. Life is running along smoothly enough for Meg until Luke, an old boyfriend who dumped her, walks back into her life.
Cowboy Luke, as the triplets call him, is a famous bull rider who not only wants to win back Meg’s heart but sees the triplets as an opportunity to have the family he always craved for. He is especially drawn to little Tucker who has a chip on his shoulder for having been abandoned by his parents – something Luke can well understand and identify with. He himself has had a difficult past – an unwanted child and always seeking but never getting his father’s approval. So he understand the little boy’s anger at his father abandoning him.
Romance novels, at least for me, make me relax and forget about any problems or duties awaiting me. Jill’s novels are comfort food for the soul. As all of Jill Weatherholt’s novels, this is a feel-good book. It’s also sweet proving that not all sweets are bad for you.
Carrie isn’t alone in using a pen name. In fact, she is in good company. Can you identify the well-known writers who wrote under these pen names? (answers are at the end of the post – no cheating!).
Back to Carrie and her pen name. Here are some questions which Carrie so graciously accepted to answer.
What made you write this book under another name?
I decided to use a pen name for the cozy mystery because it’s a different genre than what I normally write. Readers develop expectations from a writer in terms of style and plot elements, and using different names for different genres can be helpful to avoid steering a reader down the wrong path. For example, while someone might enjoy the light and clean style of my cozy mystery, they might be put off by one of my thrillers, which tend to be dark and sometimes contain violence and profanity. So, I thought it made sense to differentiate the two genres by using different names.
Has this led to any confusion or marketing difficulties?
Marketing is always difficult and definitely not my strong suit, but I think it’s actually made it easier in the sense that my website still presents me as a writer of genre-bending medical thrillers. If I add a humorous cozy mystery to my banner of books, it might be an odd contrast. That being said, my various profiles across the internet (e.g., on Amazon, on Goodreads, on my website) mention that I also have a cozy mystery written under a pen name, and Morgan Mayer’s profile mentions she also writes thrillers under my name, so hopefully any interested readers will find their way from one author name to the other.
Are you planning to write other books under Morgan Mayer?
I’d love to, but I’m not sure how soon because it’ll depend on what happens on the traditional publishing front. Although my agent was wonderfully accommodating and accepted my desire to go indie with The Cruise Ship Lost My Daughter (much quicker path to publication than the traditional route), she currently has one of my unpublished manuscripts on submission and she’ll put another one on submission soon, so if they get deals, I’ll be busy with that for a while. Plus, I’m currently working on the third book in my Benjamin Oris thriller series. But if I get some downtime in between, it would be a lot of fun to write another cozy mystery!
What are advantages to writing under two names?
Aside from what I mentioned above, writing under different names gives an author a chance to experiment a bit. Allows them to write something they haven’t before without clouding the image of their usual line of work.
Here’s what to do if you’re thinking of using a pen name?
Here are the answers to the famous authors pen names.
Finally, I have my e-books into paperback and it was a frustrating journey. First, the technical designer I hired didn’t work out after three months of back and forth with her. Then, the second technical consultant wasn’t able to put two of my e-books into paperback either because the one of the original e-book cover no longer existed or the owner of the other e-book was asking an exorbitant amount of money to use it. Then, there was the problem of Kindle’s size requirements, which luckily my technical consultant was able to deal with.
In the end, I ended up having to choose different covers for two of my paperbacks. So, three months later, here are my paperback novels.
About the Getting to Mr. Right Series
The series starts off by focusing on Campbell Jones –an award-winning relationship-therapist at the peak of her career. Friendship and support shared between the characters of Campbell’s focus group evolves as the novel progresses.
The underlying theme throughout the original Getting to Mr. Right and the four novellas which follow is “being true to oneself.” The novellas are all expansions of the main story – dating adventures for Missi, a café for Suzy, dealing with an uprooted life for Felicity and an unexpected pregnancy on the edge of mid-life for Campbell. The series has gone beyond the original premise of “Getting a man” and in true women’s fiction style, deals with the issues that come after “happily ever after.” Although all these women are now in romantic relationships, it’s more the by-product of living their lives fully than a pursuit for finding a partner.
Campbell’s research into the father/daughter dynamic and how it affects a woman’s personal choices proves that Prince Charming is nothing but a myth. In a few months, she will receive international recognition for her work.As part of her study, Campbell gives workshops to help women still seeking Mr. Right. Her latest group is made up of three women: Missi Morgan, who can’t seem to let go of a philandering spouse; Suzy Paradise, a self-proclaimed queen of online dating; and Felicity Starr, whose life and career are dictated by a controlling father.In the midst of her study, a charming and personable man enters Campbell’s life, putting her theories in shambles. Not only does she now question the validity of her research, but she must choose between her career and having her own Prince Charming. This personal dilemma makes it difficult for Campbell to give these women advice, as she encourages them to find their own paths to happiness and helps them set themselves free.
Missi Morgan is your everyday middle-aged woman who is suddenly thrust into an online dating world after years of married bliss. After learning to let go of Max, her husband who dumped her, Missi explores the world of online dating. Through one disastrous date after another, Missi learns lessons that help her discover what she truly wants. She may not find the perfect match but she finds the perfect self.
A romantic comedy for anybody having to tackle online dating and letting go.
Ever since she first appeared in Getting To Mr. Right, Felicity Starr has been struggling to find her own kind of contentment. Now, at thirty-five and living in Rome, Felicity is about to break into the world of fashion design, and caught in a flurry of plans for her wedding when calamity strikes. Her father’s sudden death brings into question the whole meaning of success. Then Marco, the man she’s about to marry, leaves her when he learns of her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. Forced to return to Montreal, Felicity finds her life thrust into unexpected turns. As she confronts the on-going challenges presented by her disease, she gains the strength to let go of old beliefs and face her inner truths. Love, friendship and rewarding work come in different forms and Felicity finds it all in ways she never imagined – in a life that’s not by design.
Most of Suzy Paradise’s dreams died along with her son over twenty years ago. One thing has re-ignited her passion for living – running her own café, which specializes in home-baked donuts. For Suzy, this is a long-cherished dream come true. Her business is starting to flounder when Donuts-A-Million, a giant chain, opens across the street from her. Her unexpected attraction to Coen Walsh, a regular customer at her café, creates more tension when she learns of his affiliation with her competitor. Café Paradise is about Suzy’s fight to save her business in spite of the odds. Sometimes, she realizes, dreams have an expiration date and it takes just as much courage to let them go. Along the way, she must re-define the meaning of work, family and romance so she can find her own formula for happiness.
In Getting to Mr. Right, Campbell debunked the Prince Charming myth, only to meet a special man who turned all her assumptions upside down. Now she’s married to Chand. But Happily-Ever-After turns out to be another illusion. Campbell deals with job burnout and struggles to find her place in the world. An unexpected pregnancy and its complications undermine her relationship with Chand and take her to a difficult crossroad. No matter which way she decides to go, nothing will ever be the same!
A psychological crime novel about obsession. Eugene’s research into his criminal mind is not about the why, but how to prevent his horrific crimes. Angie, a young woman starving for passion sees Eugene as her savior from a lonely life of caring for her heroin addicted mother. How far is she willing to go in order to save her relationship with Eugene and his promise for a future together? Detective Van Ray is on a vindictive mission as he attempts to solve the murders of young girls in Youth Protection. Their lives collide in a mixture of mistrust, obsession and ignoring the warning signs. A psychological crime novel about human frailty and loneliness.
Mourning Has Broken offers a moving and poignant look at grief and loss. In this collection of narrative non-fiction essays, the author speaks from the heart not only about the death of a dear sister but also about the mourning of a mother, a father, a dear friend, a career and a religion. Readers who have known loss will find much to relate to in this book, and will particularly appreciate the author’s ability to be frank and open and at times humorous about feelings that might be difficult to acknowledge.
I love a good romance and in her latest novel Jill Weatherholt delivers. The romantic partners in question are Joy (appropriately named) and Nick who were once high school sweethearts.
The author sets her story fourteen years later, though this time, in a professional setting. Joy and Nick are both vying for the position as principal of a mountain community school. Joy has had her heart and future set on that position, hoping “to fulfill her dream of following in her father’s footsteps,” while becoming principal is why Nick came back to this town in the first place.
After suddenly leaving Joy cold, Nick returns to town as a widower with his twin boys and a ton of guilt on his shoulders. It was truly refreshing to read of a male character who is in touch with his emotions and questions his parental role as much as his professional one.
As for Joy, I found that the author captured well what it is like to come home to the emptiness of a house, to cook just for one, to long for the security of a family and to acknowledge that “… there was no such thing as a happy ending.”
The author skillfully reveals what happened during that fourteen year separation as she goes back and forth from past secrets to present scars: “both carried shameful secrets from their past that they were unable to escape.”
What makes A Mother for His Twins stand out is the depth of the characters dealing with contemporary issues. Think of the Me Too Mouvement, sibling jealousy and past wounds that have been shoved under the carpet.
The author has a knack of keeping the reader hooked. This is an engaging and enjoyable novel and I loved the unexpected ending.
In well crafted sentences Jennifer Kelland Perry traces the journey of sixteen year old Samantha Cross and her family through their different struggles: sister rivalry, parents’ divorce, moving to a new place, teen pregnancy, mother’s drinking, money worries, Alzheimer’s and death. Whew!
Although the plot of Calmer Girls is far more dramatic than my adolescence ever was, I was filled with nostalgic moments as I found myself reminiscing about my own adolescence with its taste of first love and the confusion of young adult friendships.
The Coming-of-Age story takes place in St John’s, Newfoundland, a city and province I have always wanted to visit and, thus, appreciated the author’s descriptions of St John’s and what it was like growing up there in the 90’s.
II found the characters interesting and the author did a good job of portraying their faults along with the family’s dynamics. Although it is categorized as a YA novel, I thought the mother in the story added a domestic reality as she coped with being a mother to two teenage girls while in the midst of a separation and having to relocate to a new city. My interest was sustained until the end. Jennifer Perry makes us care about these broken characters.